Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Before & After Fireplace

So, what do you think? We got rid of the tacky pink 80's tile that I've hated since before we bought this house! Surprisingly enough, with the right tools, a little trial-and-error, and the gumption to get rid of the awful tile..you can do it too! Now, I'm no professional. I'm just telling you how we made it work for us. This might be the complete opposite of how you are supposed to correctly lay tile, but no one lost a finger or eye, so we worked out OK.
Step 1: Go to your local do-it-yourself store and get the right materials. The people at our Lowe's were really helpful. They showed us the best materials to get, why we needed certain things over others, and were generally helpful all around. Well...except for the man who totally was laughing under his breath when we told him what we were about to do. I wish I could take him that picture and just say, "Ha! Told Ya So!"...but I won't....back to the fireplace at hand.
Ugh! Even with my decorations, there is no hope for this thing.
Step 2: You have to remove the ugly pink tile. The best thing we found to do was smash the tiles on the wall with a hammer. We bought one of those fancy schmancy 'L' bar thingamajigs. It didn't do nearly the damage that a good ole' bang with a hammer did. For the tiles on the ground, that are on the cement, we found the best thing to do was cover them with a sheet and beat the crud out of them with a sledge hammer. Seemed to do the trick! Remember your protective eye cover, those broken tiles can be sharp!
Step 3: Not always necessary, but because of how our tiles came off the sheet rock we had to put backer board up. We bought the kind that you were supposed to be able to score and snap...with no such luck. We ended up using a sheet rock knife and cutting it that way. Attach backer board to your studs.
Step 4: Now it's time to put on your tiles. It took us a while to decide how we wanted to do this. Make sure you have a good idea of where you want your tiles laid, it'll save you some cutting in the long run. We only had a few tiles that didn't have to be cut. So..to the wet saw we went. It was fairly simple to use. We marked our cuts on the back side of the tiles, where the mesh is.
Step 5: Time to mortar. A fairly simple step. You have to apply it with a trowel. Don't skimp on the mortar, give it a good heavy dose.
Step 6: It's time for the mortar to set. We let ours set overnight. This is your time to shower, veg on the couch, and wonder why your shoulders, arms, and back are so sore! Most fireplaces have a little lip on the top to hold the tile. Our didn't. So, we just used some ingenuity to rig something up to hold it while it set.
Step 7: Now it's time to put on the grout. This is the part where we were really unprofessional. There is a tool to put on grout, and we had that tool, but it kept falling off and not getting into the cracks like we needed to. Long story short..we ended up using our hands! I told you.. totally unprofessional, but it got the job done. I'm sure some professional tile layer is shaking their head right now...but he wasn't at my house, so it's OK!

Step 8: After the grout comes the sealer. Read the instructions on the one you buy. Ours said to let the grout cure for 72 hours. So..3 days later it was time for sealer. While at Lowe's the first day, we bought the inexpensive sealer for stone. After about 10 coats of it, and not seeing the color of the stone that I wanted, I went back and bought the more expensive Stone Sealer and Enhancer. After 2 coats, it was perfect!

Step 9:  The people that put the ugly pink tiles in were a tad bit lazy. They didn't cut a single tile, meaning they were unlevel on one of the sides. We didn't want to follow their un-levelness, but we had to cover up the backer board that we put up to cover up the sheet rock. So, we opted for a trim piece. We just used quarter round which is what is on our base molding.

Step 10: Step back and admire all your hard work! I love it! So happy the pink tile is gone, and feeling really accomplished. Take that Lowe's man!


  1. It looks super-great! Stick it to the {Lowes} Man!

  2. I am super impressed! Our old house (Stylecraft) had that kind of tile, not quite as pink, so that is why we stuck with it, if we stilled lived there i would totally do this to it! What an improvement! Our new house has a floor to ceiling stone fireplace, so it's gonna stay put! :) LOVE The idea and the fact you had enough balls to do it, you should take the picture back to the Lowes guy to show him!

  3. WOW, Jennifer! That is amazing! I absolutely adore your new mantle/fireplace! It turned out GREAT! You guys sure did a ton of work -- but it totally paid off -- great makeover! :)

  4. Thanks for the tutorial! I also have fireplace and mantel that I hate. I'll show this to my husband. You guys did an awesome job, it looks great!